Daily Office Readings for Wednesday 10 April 2019 Week of 5 Lent Year 1
“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
The oral story is how our faith was passed on to us. There was no book (Bible). Faith was born mouth to ear. I remember the prologue to the Gospel of John: “In the Beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1) It was the word, not the book. The written word is a secondary, mimicking of the heard word.
Writing came much later and was only intended to help in maintaining the oral story. Much of what we have of the Pentateuch was first “told” as the history of Israel and only written while the Israelites were captive in Babylon hundreds of years later. We Christians accepted the Hebrew cannon of the Hebrew (Old) Testament and added to it the Christian (New) Testament.
While our New Testament was more closely recorded, time wise, than the Old Testament, there are still lapses. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, not written so much as were other languages of the day. These stories were recorded in the common Greek tongue of the time. Later Jerome and others translated both the Hebrew and the Greek Testaments into Latin, which became the Language of the Western Church. I might add, the written Church, not the Oral Church.
Latin was then the language of Rome. Rome built roads to the known world. On these roads, the Gospel was carried to the world. While all roads led to Rome, they were not “one-way.” They also led out to the entire Roman empire. I think this was God’s timing to get the Gospel to the world. As this Latin Gospel was spread the Reformation began to breakdown the Latin code into the local dialects of each region. There were, and are, so many opportunities to make mistakes, or to misunderstand what was originally said, or spoken.
We must again learn to hear the story and then speak the story. Even our babies first learn to hear and speak before they acquire the art of reading and writing. God told the Israelites in the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One.” (Deut. 6:4). It was not “Read O Israel.” I believe reading is an invaluable tool for learning, but it does not by any stretch of the imagination replace the mouth-to-ear spread of learning our faith.
Having “written” all of this, I must say, I am one who often talks too much. As a result, the guilt of my pontifications causes me to shut down in repentance from time to time. Then I remember Paul’s words to the Romans, “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” So I say, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.